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High school gym closes doors due to asbestos

While the following story did not occur here in Illinois, it is indicative of what could happen anywhere in the country. A high school gym in Hartford is undergoing a renovation project and, while the project was underway, it was discovered that the gym had asbestos in it. The gym was quickly shut down and will not be reopened until the asbestos is removed. According to officials, there was no risk to the health of students as a result of the asbestos.

Now, this is sadly nothing new. Thankfully the asbestos has been identified and is being removed -- but many schools in St. Louis, or Illinois, or, really, anywhere in the country were built many years ago when asbestos was a common material used in building construction.

As renovation projects are ordered and schools prepare to update their decades-old facilities, this asbestos is discovered. That's when the complicated questions begin to be asked. Are there adults now who have been dealing with asbestos-related illnesses because they went to a school with asbestos? Are there kids now who are being adversely affected by this harmful substance?

Asbestos can cause people to suffer terrible lung conditions, including mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer that is extremely debilitating and lethal. People who have worked on ships or in facilities where asbestos is present (or even people who have unknowingly been exposed to asbestos) can have their lives changed forever as a result of mesothelioma. Their asbestos exposure need not be swept under the rug. The victims of such exposure could sue property owners or construction companies for their failure to inform them of the asbestos risk.

Source: Hartford Courant, "Wethersfield High Gym Closed After Asbestos Found," Christopher Hoffman, Jan. 10, 2014

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